Volkswagen has released the first pictures of the updated T6 Transporter, along with confirmation that an electric version will be available for the first time.
VW has made an unusual move and partnered with the German tuning house ABT, which has provided a ready-made electric drivetrain. Its modest 110bhp is bolstered by chunky electric torque so it should be brisk enough at modest real-world speeds.
Two battery pack options will be offered: effectively one 38.8kWh pack or two, making 77.6kWh and a driving range – unladen – of almost 250 miles between charges. For when you’re on holiday and the van is loaded to the gunwales, expect that range to drop massively. The larger battery pack option is the only one to consider unless you always stay local.
The current but distant descendant of the iconic original T1 Microbus has been pictured in a sharp new two-tone paint scheme that belies the lack of mechanical changes to the diesel-driven versions. There are options from 89bhp all the way up to a biturbo flagship with 196bhp.
There are big changes elsewhere, though: the new Transporter has had a digital makeover. The T6’s hydraulic steering has finally been dropped in favour of an electromechanical system that allows for ‘direct steering intervention’ from a suite of new assist systems. Cross Wind Assist combats lateral gusts while lane-keeping assist keeps you between what it thinks are the road markings. There’s also Park Assist semi-automated parking, and Rear Traffic Alert to warn of approaching traffic while reversing out of driveways or parking spaces.
Towing capacity is up to 2500kg depending on the engine, although we’re not convinced the electric T6.1 is approved for trailers. Trailer Assist is available to act like an extension of Park Assist, taking over the more complicated initial manoeuvres involved with reversing a trailer. Some people just don’t get it, after all.
Also part of the digital revolution is a widescreen Digital Cockpit in the range-topping Highline trim. It’s a known technology and, as always, the driver can set the screen up in a tonne of different ways to suit them.
A SIM card is now integrated as standard on most models. Part of its core function is to phone for emergency assistance if you have an accident, but hopefully you won’t need that. Instead you can take advantage of Apple CarPlay, which now works wirelessly. To complement it there’s a wireless smartphone charging bay in the dashboard.
A seventh generation of the Transporter is under development alongside the I.D Buzz electric van. The US won’t get it, though, so if you want one Stateside, now’s the time.